No matter what you're doing for your Valentine, start with a terrific meal. Here's our top pick.
Shrimp and grits, done right
I did a poll around EuroCAST and everyone’s got their own ideas about how they’re going to woo their Valentine. On the night at a restaurant; before the night, at a restaurant; on the Friday, at home. A weekend away.
But they all made food the center of the experience. And I don’t think that’s because we all work at a cookware company.
Great food just cracks open the heart. Feeling down? Eat terrific food with someone you love. Feeling pressure in the relationship? Eat terrific food with them.
Eat. Terrific. Food.
1 cup water
1 cup whole milk
1 cup coarse ground grits — I love Bob’s Red Mill but whatever you get, make it the best grits you can find
3 T. unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Put water and milk in a medium sized saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to as low as it’ll go, and slowly whisk in the grits.
Beat with a wire whisk to eliminate lumps and stir in the salt and pepper.
Continue to cook, stirring with the whisk.
These are going to take a bit to cook the raw taste out of them. Patience, patience.
When the grits are creamy and have lost their raw taste (after about 50 minutes), add butter and season with salt and pepper.
Taste. Correct. Taste. Correct. The grits are a star in this dish, so make them just so.
Roasted vegetables are my “bag”, as they say in the jazz world. The right vegetables are all so flavorful and savory when roasted. Sort of … savorful. Or flavory.
I know roasted vegetables for Valentine’s aren’t traditional ... but Valentines Day, which was invented by greeting card companies, I think, gives us permission to invent our own traditions. Right? Yes. Because every love is different.
In your EuroCAST double roaster top, roast in a preheated 375F oven:
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 of large red onion, cut into slivers
1 cup peeled and chunked butternut squash (or buy it pre-chunked)
I threw in a sweet potato, too. I think you’ll love it … but you do you.
Drizzle some olive oil on them if you like. A little salt and pepper to taste.
Then roast for 30-35 minutes until fork tender. Not mushy, please. You want the vegetables to maintain their integrity.
I ask for large shrimp in this recipe. That might seem like an oxymoron. I mean, Large Shrimp, right? But in fact these suckers can be super tiny or honking big. Pick a size that will impress … but maybe not quite boat-sized.
I buy them pre-shelled and deveined but you certainly could buy them from your fishmonger and do it yourself. Practice those knife skills.
A handful of shrimp per person, or about 5 large shrimp, 7-8 small.
In your EruoCAST skillet over medium heat:
Melt 3 tablespoons unsalted butter and add in the roasted onions and roasted tomatoes.
Break up the tomatoes with a fork or the back of a spoon.
Add 1 cup stock and bring up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Add in 1 cup heavy cream and allow to thicken, about 2-3 minutes.
In a single layer, add all the shrimp and season well with salt and pepper.
Ladle the sauce over the shrimp and cook until they are just barely done. They’ll continue to cook a little even after you remove them from the heat, and you don’t want the mealy texture that comes from over-cooked shrimp.
Taste. Taste. Taste that sauce. Correct the seasoning as needed.
You can individually plate it. That can be romantic. Have the plates already hot, and serve the grits and shrimp warm. The veggies can be room temp or warm as you like.
But — even if you’re serving only two people — you could do it family style on a large platter. Nothing communicates ABONDANZA more than food on a platter. Look at all that stuff!
If you do it on a platter: Layer grits, then the roasted vegetables, then the shrimp and sauce.
I garnished here with some steamed red chard because, you know, red, Valentine’s. You gotta do it.
Then, on top, toss flat leaf parsley chopped loosely, and give a good drizzle of hot Chile oil, unless hot Chile oil isn’t to everyone’s taste, in which case just put that oil on the table and let people drizzle at will.
And then eat. Terrific. Food.
Happy Valentines Day!